HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hayesville Mayor Harry Baughn was invited to address the Mountain Movers and Shakers on the morning of Friday, July 13, and the city official cited several similarities between Hayesviile and Hiawassee. Situated north of Towns County, Hayesville is the county seat of Clay County, North Carolina.
Elected in 2013, Baughn is serving his second-term in office, and says he believes he will be able to accomplish his goals within the next three-and-a-half years, with no plans to run for a third-term seat.
“Our towns are comparable,” Baughn began, “We each have our own specialties, and our own wonderful places to be. Hiawassee has Music on the Square one night, and we have Music on the Square another night, so we do have some similar things.”
Baughn said one of his proudest accomplishments since election was the construction of public restrooms. “One of the first things I did after taking office – and it’s probably going to be my legacy – was building a set of public restrooms. That has been a big deal in downtown Hayesville. It is right next door to town hall.” Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales, who did not attend Friday’s forum, voiced ambition for public restrooms at a city council meeting months prior.
Baughn spoke of the importance of “walkability” in small towns, describing the placement of sidewalks in Hayesville, and the necessity of sufficient parking. Baughn said that an additional 24 parking spaces were recently added to downtown Hayesville, and the City of Hayesville partnered with business owners to replace worn awnings on storefronts to make the ambiance more appealing.
“Business development, the other important thing in small town survivalability,” Baughn stated, “We’ve been doing economic development during my administration, and we’ve gotten quite a number of new businesses downtown. If you’ve not been to the Valley River Brewery and Eatery, home of the famous wood-fired brick oven pizza, 15 craft brews – and right now is Wednesday, Wacky Wednesday – that you can get up to five toppings for $14.99, and I highly recommend the Mayor’s Pizza.” The crowd laughed in response.
Baughn continued, listing additional businesses that have opened in Hayesville within the past two years, such as a home décor shop, a children’s’ boutique, a computer repair store, a pet shop, and a tap house. The city official noted that Clay County Chamber of Commerce relocated to downtown Hayesville. Baughn included that a new Italian restaurant opened for business last week, and an additional restaurant and brewery plans to open its doors in August.
Baughn said that Hayesville hopes to gain an updated post office in the near future, which was a recent topic of discussion at a Hiawassee Town Hall meeting, designed for strategic city development planning. Baughn expressed hope of acquiring a recognizable “name brand hotel” in Clay County in order to to draw visitors to his town, claiming that many Hayesviile tourists choose to lodge in Hiawassee.
The mayor concluded by encouraging citizens to visit Clay County’s newly-renovated historic courthouse which towers above Hayesville’s town square. The majestic structure was originally constructed in 1888, and it functioned as the county courthouse until 2007. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 21.
“In addition to building the bathrooms, one of the things I’m proud of is wrestling (the courthouse) away from the county since they didn’t care about it,” Baughn revealed, “When they abandoned it, they needed to get rid of all of the wood in there because of the deterioration. When they took out the door frames and stuff, they weren’t really careful. I mean, they took sledgehammers, so basically there were round holes in the brick walls where there used to be doors. But at least they were willing. They deeded the courthouse and the square over to the town of Hayesville. It is leased to the CCCRA (Clay County Communities Revitalization Association) so that they could go after grant money.” Baughn explained the toiled effort involved in the restoration of the historic site, singing the praises of those who partook in process.
Hiawassee City Councilwoman Anne Mitchell, and Hiawssee Police Chief Paul Smith attended the Mountain Movers and Shakers meeting, held weekly at Sundance Grill.
HAYESVILLE, NC – Just a ten mile drive from Hiawassee, Georgia, sits Hayesville, the county seat of Clay County, North Carolina, a quaint town with a rich history. This weekend, Hayesville will host the 35th annual Festival on the Square in the heart of downtown. Weather-permitting, the event is sure to draw crowds of all ages, both local and visitors alike.
Sponsored by the Clay County Historical and Arts Council (CCHAC), Festival on the Square begins at 7 p.m. Friday, July 13, with live music and a street dance, and runs from Saturday, July 14, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., through Sunday, July 15, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
The Friday evening dance party will feature contra and round dancing music by Bob Dalsimer and the Ad Hoc String Band, and entertainment by Caromia Tiller, Jason Kenny, Gnarly Fingers, and the Sweetheart Cloggers.
The surrounding street will close prior to the start of the festival, with organizers recommending an early arrival.
Approximately 70 crafters are expected to participate in this year’s weekend event, featuring art such as photography, wood carvings, yard decor, jewelry, soap, candles, gourds, handmade fishing poles, and a variety of other unique items. Entertainment will be provided throughout the event, with bands, soloists, and dancers taking to the gazebo stage. The festival will include a children’s tent, complete with face-painting and fun crafts. Barbequed chicken and pork will be available for purchase, with proceeds benefitting the local Old Jail Museum and other artistic and historic projects. In addition, the event promises other festive fare, such as hot dogs, homemade baked goods, ice cream, soft drinks, and fresh-squeezed lemonade.
History lovers will enjoy the Old Jail Musuem, open both days of the event, and situated just a short distance from the Square itself. ‘Clay County: Then and Now,’ authored by Carl Moore, will be available for purchase at the festival’s information booth, with souvenier t-shirts and hats sold to benefit the CCHAC.
Admission is free. Pets are not permitted, with the exception of service dogs.
Of note, WiFi has been installed on Hayesville Square, with some vendors capable of offering purchases via credit card.
(Feature Photo: Historic Clay County Courthouse on Hayesville Square)